A SWOT analysis is a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a given project or entity. It is an easy way to look at the current state of things and how things could change in the near future. When doing a SWOT analysis of a college, you could do a simple SWOT analysis of a school overall, or you could focus on a specific aspect of the university – for example, doing a SWOT analysis of student life, professors, the campus or the school's athletics program.
A sample SWOT analysis of a school might include as little or as much detail as is necessary. This means you can write out short statements or even single words like "affordable" or "lack of diversity," or you can use full sentences.
Alternatively, you can use short, easy-to-read statements followed by full sentences to add more context – for example, "aging facilities: substantial deferred maintenance and older buildings require funding to maintain and restore."
When filling out a SWOT, strengths are factors that benefit your school right now. Ask yourself what makes your school better than competitors. For example:
- Is your tuition lower than other schools?
- Is the school located closer to where people live?
- Do you have better on-campus housing?
- Are class sizes smaller?
- Do you have a more diverse student body?
- Does your school have a good reputation?
- Is your campus safer than other schools?
- Is your athletics program particularly good?
The weaknesses area is the opposite of the strengths, meaning these are negative factors that count against your school right now. If you answered "no" to any of the questions in the strengths section, then you should probably count that as a weakness. Other questions you might ask include:
- Is your campus in bad shape?
- Is there a lot of political turmoil on campus?
- Do professors seem to stop putting forth effort after obtaining tenure?
- Do students transfer to schools frequently?
- Are your professors or classes rated poorly online?
- Is your technology falling behind that of competing schools?
Remember that even if something doesn't seem like a big deal now, it could develop into a major issue later, so it's important to write down all negative aspects of your school, even if it only seems minor. Also, remember that some things may be positive or negative depending on someone's viewpoint.
If a lot of students drop out because the courses are hard, for example, that could be seen as a negative because you don't have enough support systems, but others might argue that it means your school has high expectations and that only the best and brightest students obtain diplomas. For this reason, you may want to ask "why?" before adding a weakness.
Opportunities in a SWOT analysis should take into account external factors that could benefit you in the future if you act upon them. Things like the economy, changes in technology and trends in education can all be opportunities or threats depending on how they may affect you. A few examples of things that could serve as opportunities include:
- Students are increasingly taking online courses, and your school has a good online presence.
- More older residents in your area are starting to take extension courses.
- A worldwide recession has been resulting in fewer employment opportunities, sending more people back to school.
- A newly proposed freeway would make commuting to your campus easier than ever.
Just as the weaknesses are the opposite of strengths, threats in a SWOT are the opposite of opportunities, meaning they involve external influences that could harm you in the future if you do not prepare against them. Some examples of potential threats include:
- There are more free tutorials and educational videos available online to train people in careers that require training but not diplomas.
- A new state university is set to be constructed within a mile of your campus.
- Due to a record-high number of students defaulting on student loans, the banking industry is making it harder for students to get loans to pay for schooling.