SWOT Analysis of a College or University

PESTLEanalysis Team
PESTLEanalysis Team
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

SWOT analysis helps understand the pros and cons of a college or university. Before you apply — and especially before you attend —  there are things to determine first.

You want to determine which school is appropriate for you, based on your needs and wants. You’ll be dedicating years of your life and thousands of dollars to this institution, after all.

Think of SWOT analysis as an enhanced pros and cons (strengths and weaknesses) list that also examines threats and opportunities of your college of choice.

The strengths

What are the type of strengths to consider when using SWOT analysis? Some traits will be more substantial than others based on your location, topic of study, and expenses.


  • What are the costs to attend per semester?
  • Where is the college located and is it convenient for commuting?
  • What is the condition of the dorms?
  • How many students attend the university?
  • What is the reputation of the school?

If the cost per semester is dramatically lower than other institutions in your area, this is a strength. You should be tallying up as many strengths as possible here. Consider aspects of the school that gets you excited — fantastic volleyball team? Do they have hundreds of clubs and extracurriculars? Anything of that nature.

Completing a list of strengths are the fun part of SWOT analysis. But now we move onto weaknesses.

The weaknesses

This section of SWOT is to highlight information that’ll make you reconsider attending this college. It’s important to weigh-in every little thing here — because something that may be small to you now could develop into a major issue later.

Consider things such as:

  • Is there a high crime rate in the general area?
  • Does the institution go on strike frequently?
  • Do students often transfer to other schools?
  • Are the professors rated poorly on websites/forums/social media?

You must consider what qualifies as a weakness to you. A college who only sees a 20% of students continue into their second year may be a red flag to some. But to others? It may just be a challenge.

Also, consider the why behind weaknesses if possible. For example, “Does the institution go on strike frequently?” Yes — but why? Are teaching assistants unhappy? Is the school losing funding?

While you may not find concrete answers, it’ll get you thinking more of how impactful these weaknesses are to you.

The opportunities

Opportunities, in this case, relate to your future.

For example, an involved alumni may help you network and land a position quickly upon graduating.

A program that allows you to get hands-on experience during the semester can help you land internships during the summer, compared to students who haven’t yet received real-world experience.

Consider scholarships too. Does the institution offer many? More specifically, can you qualify for these scholarships?

During this section of SWOT analysis, consider the advantages your school may offer regarding academics, career, and networking.

The threats

Here you want to find what could threaten your success while attending the college. Previously, we mentioned a school that frequently goes on strikes. If that happens, your graduation could be delayed — leading you to spend more money on your schooling and lose out on internship/career offers.

You can cross-list weaknesses here. Weaknesses are existing problems that harm your chances of success. Threats may happen and if they do, consider how it’ll affect you.

In conclusion…

SWOT analysis is a strategic tool that can help you understand which college or university to attend.

By highlighting strengths and weaknesses, you create an efficient and more thorough ‘pros and cons’ list. And by considering opportunities and threats, you dive deeper into future planning and deciding on the right choice from all angles.

Image: Stokkete/Shutterstock.com

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