A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis is a tool used in businesses and other organizations to assess the potential upsides and liabilities of marketing plans and strategies, new business ventures and even hiring new employees. SWOT analyses have many applications in addition to those stated, though.
The strengths section of a SWOT analysis should look inward on an organization. This is the section where a college would identify the internal strengths it possesses. For example, some colleges cite in this section high enrollment, high student retention, low student to teacher ratios, high graduation rates, experienced and effective faculty and a competitive academic environment.
The weaknesses section of a SWOT analysis should also look inward on an organization. This is the section where a college would identify the internal weaknesses it faces. For example, some colleges might cite in this section low post-graduation employment rates, high staff and faculty turnover, a lack of student parking, high tuition rates or low school pride.
The opportunities section of a SWOT analysis should look at the external environment of an organization. The opportunities should entail local to distant factors that could lead to growth or improvement. This is the section where a college would identify those opportunities for growth or improvement. For example, some colleges cite in this section a large alumni pool, unused office capacity, training seminars and conventions, or competitor universities dropping degree programs or reducing incoming class sizes.
The threats section of a SWOT analysis should also look at the external environment of an organization. The threats should entail local to distant factors that could cause atrophy, decline or harm at an organization. This is the section where a college would identify those threats that would harm the college's current growth or status quo. For example, some colleges cite in this section community college growth, academic building erosion and wear, high health care costs, dissatisfied alumni, a poor economy, increasing online courses or smaller high school graduation classes.
Constructing a SWOT Analysis
With the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats all drafted, taking that information and placing it in a chart is the next step. The way to display a SWOT analysis is by constructing a chart with the strengths listed in the upper left portion, weaknesses listed in the upper right portion, opportunities listed in the lower left portion and threats listed in the lower right portion.
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