How do colleges rank high school difficulty. Is Forest Hills High NY more difficult than Benjamin Cardozo High NY?
I got an offer to transfer to Forest Hills High School from Benjamin N Cardozo, both in New York. According to US News Report, Forest Hills High is better ranked than Cardozo by 1,000 schools. If I switch I can still take the same amount of classes with the same difficulty level. The extracurriculars are also the same. Forest Hills is also closer to me and they have the same grading system. I have to make up my mind soon about the transfer and I need help. I’d greatly appreciate you researching these schools and comparing them to see where should I attend for my sophmore-senior years. Which school would appear better to colleges?
All other things being equal, it really depends on your preferences. It seems like Forest Hills is more convenient for you and because you're only a freshman. The trade-off is that you would be leaving clubs that you have already made connections with which leaves you less time to do things like get leadership positions but again since you're a freshman that shouldn't be an issue. From my experience rank doesn't matter that much as it pertains to student outcomes. Per niche you would be trading away an A- school for an A school (for context I attend a C school). We still have quite a few students matriculate at Top 10 universities. Although Forest Hills might be slightly better, if you are transferring only because of ranking I would reconsider doing so. But if it is a matter of convenience or you simply prefer the environment then go for it, either way it will work out. Just remember colleges care infinitely more about who the student is and not where they're from or what school they went to.
In response to your title question—how colleges rank high school difficulty—the answer is that they actually don't. Instead, they try to normalize their process by comparing students against others from the same school; in effect, especially at top schools, you're competing with your classmates most directly for spots at top colleges.
This sometimes means that, if you go to a school with fewer resources and really excel, you might be able to stand out more easily and take one of the couple of spots colleges reserve for their students every year. But if you go to a school with more resources... well, you'll have more resources at your disposal, and while your classmates may be more competitive, colleges may admit more students from that school overall.
In the end, what this means is that you really shouldn't choose a high school based on this calculation, because those factors tend to cancel each other out. Pick the school that you think you'll do better at, because that's really what matters. Doing worse at a better ranked school will leave you worse off than doing well at a low-ranked school.
Beyond that, as a tip for these forums (and using internet forums in general), there are certain kinds of request you can reasonably expect strangers on the internet to help you with and ones that you probably shouldn't make. "Please research these schools for me" falls into the latter camp; you're the student making that decision, and unless you're paying someone to do that work for you, that research is your job and your responsibility. "How do colleges rank high school difficulty" on the other hand is a much better question for a space like this, because it can be concisely answered by someone who knows how that system works. I don't mean that to come off as harsh—as I said, it's just a tip for using forums like this one effectively, and getting the most out of them that you can get.