I have a feeling this whole thing comes down to something very simple, and very simple High School in thinking. "I want a MBP because friend A got a MBP." Think about all the other purchases most of these kids make, from shoes to clothing. They want to be be just like their friends, but different. People still see Apple as an "alternative" to the big bad Micro$oft. So, they can be "different" by getting the MBP but still run with their friends.
As to the MBP over a MBA - salesmen. It is an easy upsell from the MBA when for "just a few $ more, you can get a much more powerful machine that will last longer and has comparable battery life." Lines I have overheard countless times in stores. Add in the Education discount and it is nearly a no-brainer. And, truth be told, a valid argument.
No, for most high school into college kids and parents, it is less about the tech and more about the fitting in and slight upsell.
You have a valid point there. I have noticed the same thing too! But, when the matter comes down to senior academics, then I have to start to wonder - especially about those who work on game theory and value maximization! :LOL: