Elizabeth Jones would have laughed out loud if she knew as a freshman that she'd enter the Army a couple weeks after high school graduation.
The senior said that it was during her early years at Moffat County High School that were the most difficult -- a time when she harbored a sense of rebellion against the institution and came close to dropping out.
But Jones' perspective changed after she signed up for the Army and spent the summer after her junior year sweating in boot camp.
"I felt completely out of place when I came back," she said. "All summer I'd been saying 'yes, ma'am' and 'yes, sir.' I realized other students didn't have a clue about what life was like after high school."
Life after high school starts June 15 for Jones, barely two weeks after graduation. She'll arrive at Fort Lee, Va., and start a three-year enlistment.
Jones said she applied for an Army position as a cook because she thinks that job will offer the most free time to pursue her studies. Earning an education is Jones' main motivation for joining the military: She wants to obtain at least an associate's degree while in the service.
Jones, who labeled her boot camp experience "fun," said heading into the military won't be much of a shock. She said drill sergeants' attempts to break her spirit didn't much affect her. Once, she said, a drill sergeant cut off a female recruit's hair with a pocketknife after the officer became frustrated that she couldn't keep if off her neckline.
"They're not supposed to touch you and degrade you, but everybody knows they do," she said. "I don't think I'll have a problem because I know what to expect. You watch 'In the Army Now' and you know what to expect."
Jones is taking her high-school credits mostly at Colorado North----western Community Coll-ege, to get ahead and escape the high school environment, which she considers "a joke."
Jones said serving a stint in the military would help her develop a healthy sense of reality.
"It's frustrating to see so many people who are naÃive," she said.
"A lot of people don't know how good they have it. It's the only time I'll be shipped from country to country free of charge. I can do that."