Nobody asked me to lay my wisdom on any graduates this year, but if they did, here's what I'd say:
Kids, forget about grad school, law school and med school -- there's serious money to be made in becoming a personality. And if that doesn't work out, you can always become a talk show host. Or better yet, become a porn queen and make big bucks selling your moans of love as a cell phone ring tone.
But don't take my word for it. Check out the latest issue of Forbes, which features the magazine's seventh annual "Celebrity 100" list.
Every year, the folks at Forbes gather info on celebrity paychecks and combine it with data on how often the celebs' faces appear on magazine covers and how often their names appear in newspapers and on TV and radio.
The list is designed to make "news" items that will feature the word "Forbes." Here's this year's nugget: Oprah, who made $225 million in the past 12 months, is ranked No. 1, despite the fact that she made $65 million less than the best-paid celeb, George Lucas, who is ranked No. 4.
Right now, professional celebritologists all over the world are busy mining the data in the Celebrity 100 for insights into America's all-powerful Celebrity Industrial Complex. And there is so much amazing data to mine. Consider these tidbits of info revealed in Forbes' 22-page celebrity package:
* Ben Roethlisberger, the Pittsburgh Steelers' rookie quarterback, made a cool million signing stuff at $100 per signature.
* Kurt Warner, the veteran quarterback who recently signed with the Arizona Cardinals, delivers Christian sermons for $40,000 a pop.
* Magician Criss Angel made $50,000 in one day signing autographs -- and that was before he hired a celebrity management firm called the Firm, which polished his image by getting him to stop polishing his nails black.
Like all epochal scholarly works -- "The Origin of Species," "Das Kapital" and "Civilization and Its Discontents" come to mind -- the Celebrity 100 raises more questions than it answers:
* Why do the names of so many celebrity-related businesses -- the Firm, the Alliance, the Strategic Group -- sound like the names of evil organizations in old James Bond movies?
* Will the forthcoming fragrance named after tennis starlet Maria Sharapova smell like Maria Sharapova smells before or after she plays three sets in 90-degree heat?
* If Brad Pitt is rated No. 11 and his soon-to-be ex-wife, Jennifer Aniston, is No. 37, why isn't his new gal pal, Angelina Jolie, on the list? What is Angie, chopped liver?
* Is the fact that Bill Clinton is ranked No. 56, right below Paris Hilton, merely a delightfully ironic coincidence? Or was it a subtle jab at the former prez by the supply-side Republicans who run Forbes?
* And, finally: Can this nation -- or any nation where Will Ferrell is the highest paid actor -- long endure?
Those questions can be debated but, alas, never really resolved. What America's young people really need now is information that can help them answer a more pressing question:
How can I make an ungodly amount of money even if I'm not particularly, you know, talented at anything?
Fortunately, the Celebrity 100 has an answer: Become a "personality." There are seven personalities on the list, and several of them -- Paris Hilton and Ashlee Simpson, for instance -- have no discernable talent whatsoever. (In fact, these personalities don't even have all that much personality.)
If you possess the ability to speak, you might want to consider a career as a media yapper. The Celebrity 100 includes 10 talk show hosts, who made a collective $466 million in the past year. And don't fret -- having something profound to say is not required. Howard Stern made $31 million and Rush Limbaugh made $30 million.
But maybe talking isn't your forte. Maybe you'd rather just have sex. In that case, you might want to follow the career path of porn actress Jenna Jameson, star of "Hard Evidence" and "Lip Service" and dozens of other "movies."
Jameson didn't make the Celebrity 100 this year, but she did so well that Forbes published a story on what it calls "her holding company." The company runs a Web site -- accessible only to members who pay $35 a month -- that sells Jameson's unique line of souvenirs. "Her fans can rent her digital moan as the ringer on their cell phones," Forbes reports, "and buy Jenna sex toys, action figures -- and even a piece of herself, molded in soft plastic, anatomically accurate and priced to move at $200."
Her daddy must be so proud.
Meanwhile, Jameson -- whose memoir, "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star," spent six weeks on the New York Times bestseller list -- is now semi-retired from the porn film business.
In this case, semi-retired means that the only man she has sex with on camera is her husband, manager Jay Grdina, and the only women she has sex with on camera are the young ladies who make movies for her holding company. "My scene with the girls introduces them to my fan base," she tells Forbes. "That's my handoff of the football. Don't drop it, [ladies]."
Now, Jameson is branching out. On her Web site, she provides fans with advice on relationships, plastic surgery -- even investment tips. And she's shopping around a proposal for a reality TV series about herself.
"Her brand has been developed with the reputation of being the best," says her husband, "and now we are capitalizing on that and monetizing the name."
Monetizing the name -- that's a pretty good definition of what it means to be a celebrity these days.
Go forth, graduates, and monetize your name.