'I didn't really learn anything': COVID grads face college

Instructor Oh Moon Kwon, left, speaks to students during a math class, part of an intense six-week summer bridge program for students of color and first-generation students at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis., July 27, 2022. Seated, in the flowered black shirt is Angel Hope, who said he didn't feel ready for college after online classes in high school caused him fall behind, but says the bridge classes made him feel more confident. Hundreds of thousands of recent graduates are heading to college this fall after spending more than half their high school careers dealing with the upheaval of a pandemic. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger)

Angel Hope looked at the math test and felt lost. He had just graduated near the top of his high school class, winning scholarships from prestigious colleges. But on this test - a University of Wisconsin exam that measures what new students learned in high school - all he could do was guess.

It was like the disruption of the pandemic was catching up to him all at once.

Nearly a third of Hope's high school career was spent at home, in virtual classes that were hard to follow and easy to brush aside. Some days he skipped school to work extra hours at his job. Some days he played games with his brother and sister. Other days he just stayed in bed.

Algebra got little of his attention, but his teachers kept giving him good grades amid a school-wide push for leniency.