On a slightly aside note, I was at Punahou (an elite prep-school in Oahu) at the same time as Barack Obama — although I was a few years behind him. Hawaii is an extremely racially diverse state and the school reflected that, although as far as I am aware, they have never had affirmative action at that school. If they ever did, it was probably for white kids. Punahou graduates routinely go on to college at the most elite schools in the country, as you might expect from a place that was at one time the best of it’s kind west of the Mississippi. But yet, when Obama ran for president, it was simply assumed that he had gotten into the colleges he had due to affirmative action, and this was often touted as a reason that he was not fully qualified to be president. How could he possibly have done so on merit alone (discounting that affirmative action is not the opposite of merit)? Meanwhile, in his case at least, based on the kind of education to be had at Punahou, he was no doubt educationally more qualified than most presidential candidates in recent memory.
Anyhow, thanks for so clearly explaining how all the nuances of placement, including accounting for tenacity and achievement in spite of poor circumstances factors into choosing who gets selected for a limited number of college slots. I kind of understood this before, but now I really do.