Most prep schools take in a much smaller number of students in 9th grade than they do in 10th grade. There are several reasons for this. One of them is the cost of boarding school. That is certainly a factor for many families. Paying for four years of private residential school is simply more expensive than three years. Consequently, most families will wait until 10th grade to send their children to boarding school.
Emotional maturity is another factor to consider. Some teens are more prepared than others to leave home for 9th grade. Sometimes family circumstances will determine whether beginning in 9th grade is preferable to entering in 10th grade. For example, if your organization is going to transfer you overseas, you may decide that it is better for your child to stay stateside in boarding school. Being a teen has enough pressures. A modicum of stability and familiarity in his routine might just be what he needs to get through this rough patch in his family life. Because boarding schools create such a strong sense of community, they can provide the security and stability which children need when their family life at home is in a state of flux. Boarding schools focus on the development of the whole child. You will always know where your child is because the school staff monitors his whereabouts both inside and outside of the classroom. Unsupervised downtime is virtually non-existent. Somebody in the school is always aware of what your child is doing.
11th and 12th Grade Admissions
Getting into a boarding school for 11th or 12th grade is never easy. Your child will need to have everything the school is looking for and offer no problems. In other words, don't try to get into 11th or 12th grade if another private school has expelled your child. Once the school has determined that your child meets their requirements, the school will then have to have an available place. That usually won't happen unless a student leaves, freeing up a place. Students entering in 11th grade have to get up to speed academically and socially very quickly. That usually requires the kind of student who is smart, adaptable and self-motivated. 11th and 12th grade admissions happen, but they are not guaranteed.
If your child is an international student, it makes sense to plan to enter school in 9th grade. She will benefit from the extra year to become acclimatized to her new surroundings, being a long way from home and family as well as getting used to a new culture and language.
In the final analysis, which point of entry you choose to enter boarding school is up to you and your circumstances, as well as your requirements. No matter which grade you decide upon, you will be making a wise choice.
Questions? You may contact me via Twitter. @privateschl