Allow me to gloat a little: My alma mater is ranked No. 1 in the SEC.
No, I didn't graduate from Alabama.
I went to Vanderbilt, the nation's 17th best university in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings.
In case you're wondering, here are the rankings for the entire SEC:
1. Vanderbilt (No. 17)
2. Florida (No. 54)
3. Georgia (No. 63)
4. Texas A&M (No. 65)
5. Alabama (No. 77)
6. Auburn (No. 89)
7. Missouri (No. 97)
8. Tennessee (No. 101)
9. South Carolina (No. 115)
10. Kentucky (No. 125)
11. LSU (No. 134) (tie)
11. Arkansas (No. 134) (tie)
13. Ole Miss (No. 151)
14. Mississippi State (No. 160)
Thank God for Mississippi.
But I digress.
Everybody tells kids applying to college that they shouldn't worry about rankings. That's absolutely true.
It's especially true because I have four children for whom it would cost more than a million bucks to send to Vanderbilt.
But I tell my children not to worry about it -- they probably couldn't get into Vanderbilt anyway.
That's because they have my genes. Sure, I got accepted to Vanderbilt 26 years ago, but Vandy wasn't ranked nearly as high then, and last I checked it has a 16 percent acceptance rate.
That's when my kids bring up their mother. They have her genes too, and she got into Vanderbilt then and she'd get into Vanderbilt now.
That's when I remind them that things change, and that today's Vandy could be tomorrow's Ole Miss.
So they should just go to Ole Miss, except that I'd be paying out-of-state tuition, so they should go to Georgia, a much more highly ranked school today and probably tomorrow.
That's when my kids say the only reason I favor Georgia is because it costs about $45,000 less per year to attend than Vanderbilt.
And that's not even factoring in the HOPE scholarship.
Smart kids. Maybe they could get into Vanderbilt after all.
That's when I bring up Oprah. Yes, Oprah Winfrey.
Oprah went to college in Nashville, home of Vanderbilt.
But Oprah graduated from Tennessee State, whose rankings went unpublished.
Of course, it didn't matter where Oprah attended school.
She could have gone to Harvard, Yale, Erskine or Tougaloo. Oprah would have been Oprah no matter where she matriculated.
Which I think is good advice for children everywhere: You are who you are wherever you are, and no college is going to change that.
Even if it's a place your parents can afford.
Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org