I am a grade 10 student and would like to pursue a degree in architecture in India. I would like to know if this is possible without opting for physics in grades 11 and 12 as I would like to select commerce and maths instead. Once I enrol for a Bachelor of Architecture degree (B.Arch) will I have to study physics? 
Name withheld by request

To study architecture in India you will need physics, chemistry or biology, mathematics and computer science, among other subjects. A Bachelor of Architecture degree is a five-year course in India. There are three entrance exams to get into the top institutes: the National Aptitude Test in Architecture (Nata), the aptitude test for B.Arch and Planning (AIEEE) and the Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Exam (IIT-JEE).

If you plan to study in the UK, USA or Canada, then you need English, humanities and mathematics at the higher level and physics. Commerce will help you but is not a substitute for physics.

These days you also have the option of studying architecture in Europe (all studies are in English). Tuition fees tend to be reasonable and the programmes are taught by working professionals to give you a taste of the real world.

Students may not be aware of careers that are closely related to architecture and these should be explored with your college counsellor. A professional building designer or home designer for light-frame buildings and agricultural buildings is another related career to consider. Similarly, one could consider a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLA) or a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. Job opportunities in these disciplines are predicted to grow faster than many other occupations.

My son is in grade 8 and goes to an international school in Dubai that follows the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum. We plan to send him to the US for higher studies. As we are dissatisfied with his school we are contemplating moving him. We have shortlisted a school that follows the British curriculum. Would you recommend a change to such a school given our future intentions?
Name withheld by request

I am sorry to hear you are unhappy with your son's school. I would strongly recommend you speak to the school administration as many issues can be resolved with a frank discussion. It is not unusual for parents to perceive the middle school curriculum as unchallenging. If the school has been achieving good results and your son is settled do reconsider your decision. The IB curricular is well recognised by US and UK universities.

The US also recognises the British curriculum. Admission into American universities does not depend solely on grades; universities look at SAT 1, top US universities will also require SAT 2, community development projects and extra-curricular activities. Students planning to apply to the Tier 1 colleges should talk to a college counsellor from grade 9 to start working on their strategy. Summer schools are highly recommended to give your child the edge over hundreds of other applicants. Acceptance rates for competitive colleges such as Princeton and Berkeley tend to fall every year and this should be fair warning to parents to plan as early as possible.

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Verma began his career with Ernst & Young before moving on to set up the Gulf operations of IDP Education Pty. He now leads Intelligent Partners in Dubai developing a wide range of solutions in areas of international education. Contact friday@gulfnews.com