September 14, 2023
Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) is a tool to evaluate your school, assess your current situation, and develop strategies for improvement. SWOT analyses are popular in the business world and are common in private school marketing.
Why might your school want to conduct a SWOT analysis? Digging into the categories of a SWOT analysis can help identify internal and external factors impacting your school’s performance and effectiveness. This is especially valuable when considering private school marketing strategies.
How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Before beginning a SWOT analysis, determine who will participate in the exercise. Include constituents from your school community: faculty, staff, administrators, students, parents, and others who are interested in your future. Find a time that works for everyone without interruption.
Once you set a time, gather all current research about your school, including academic statistics, enrollment data, completed surveys, and student retention rates. The more data you present, the more accurate the picture of your school will be.
Next, choose a template to organize your SWOT analysis discussion. This template will be used in all future decisions and references. Include the following elements.
First, list the internal aspects or characteristics that differentiate your school from others. These are internal factors that give your school a competitive advantage. Delineating your school’s strengths allows you to make better decisions, resulting in the most benefit.
Consider what draws parents and students to your school. These might include college acceptance rates, modern facilities, dedicated teachers, and cocurricular activities. Keep these areas of strength in mind as ones to maintain and enhance.
Being honest with yourself about weaknesses can be difficult, but recognizing them is as important as identifying your school’s strengths. Weaknesses are areas where your school underperforms or is at a disadvantage.
These may also be items preventing your school from fulfilling its mission and purpose. Consider all areas when it comes to identifying your weaknesses.
- Does your school have sufficient faculty members across all disciplines?
- Is your curriculum up to date?
- How is your internal communication?
- Does your school struggle with student discipline?
Next, evaluate the severity of each problem. How can these weaknesses be addressed and corrected?
The third consideration is opportunities–external (and internal) circumstances that can lead to positive outcomes. In recognizing your opportunities, look for ways to turn challenges into actionable items.
In most instances, “opportunities” in a SWOT analysis are external forces beyond your control that can benefit you.
For example: A competitor school closing its doors. Population growth in your metro area. An alumnus selling a business at a huge profit.
#4—Be Prepared to Address Threats
Threats, like opportunities, can be both internal and external. Again, in most instances threats are external to your school and beyond your control. If not addressed, threats can create extensive problems. For example:
- A new school opens in the area.
- A declining school-age population.
- Bad PR from a scandal.
- Accidental death of a student or retirement of a favorite teacher.
Being aware of potential threats is crucial for developing plans to respond to or address them.
#5—Use the Analysis for School Improvement
Prioritize your lists based on your gathered information, insights, and notes. For future decisions about enrollment or private school marketing campaigns, refer to your SWOT analysis and ask these questions:
- How will this decision build on our school’s strengths?
- How will this decision address and counter our school’s weaknesses?
- How does this decision welcome and respond to opportunities?
- How does this decision shield against threats?
A SWOT analysis will provide you with a clearer understanding of how to reach your target market effectively, both internally and externally, while maximizing your school’s strengths, counteracting its weaknesses, and viewing opportunities and threats as a way to predict your future success.
ISM encourages an objective opinion to make the most informed decisions regarding your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Doing so will enable your school to move forward with the best recommendations to support your mission.