What Is A Personal SWOT Analysis For Students?

Last Updated on 24/04/2024 by James Barron

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This article delves into the significance and application of SWOT analysis, a crucial tool for business, marketing, teaching and individual self-assessment. Originated in the 1960’s by Albert Humphrey, SWOT, originally known as the SOFT analysis, evaluates strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of an entity, be it an organisation or an individual. While businesses employ SWOT to identify internal capabilities and external challenges, individuals, particularly students, can harness it to gain insight into their attributes and chart out their academic or career trajectories. This article delineates the steps to conduct a personal SWOT analysis, underscoring the importance of introspection and external feedback. Whether one is a student, entrepreneur, or professional, integrating SWOT analysis into decision-making processes can provide a holistic view of one’s position and potential, steering them towards more informed and advantageous choices.


Individuals attempting to break into the many different industries, including business, marketing, teaching, etc., will need to learn many terms, techniques, and strategies. One of the most important is the SWOT analysis, which is a vital business, marketing and teaching theory. The technique can be very beneficial when developing a plan because it helps analyse the internal weaknesses and strengths of the subjects, but also the external opportunities and threats.

It will also identify external factors and opportunities. Students can also benefit from using SWOT analysis since it provides insight into their best and worst attributes. More about SWOT analysis for students can be found below.

About SWOT

First, students should learn more about SWOT, which is also called the SWOT method and the SWOT matrix. In the business world, SWOT is a technique designed to study a company’s internal factors, such as its weaknesses and strengths. It will also help pinpoint external factors, including potential threats and viable opportunities.

Using the framework is an excellent way to find unique opportunities for the business and make the most effective business decisions. Students can also use SWOT to make better decisions.

SWOT History

The SWOT technique has been used for many years since it was developed sometime in the 1960’s by Albert Humphrey and his team. At the time, Albert was working for the Stanford Research Institute. Humphrey and his associates created a framework to enable businesses to create more sustained strategies.

Initially, the SWOT technique was known as the SOFT analysis, standing for satisfactory, opportunity, fault, and threat. Although the name has changed, the SWOT model remains an effective way to identify any company’s external and internal factors. Eventually, Humphrey and his teammates introduced an even more effective technique to help identify specific aspects.

For instance, the new technique can be used to learn more about products, distributions, customers, finances, and more.

What Does SWOT Stand For?

SWOT has become a staple of the marketing industry because it can empower businesses to reach new customers and identify viable opportunities. It stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. In other words, the analysis technique can help identify factors in each category.

Internal factors, such as weaknesses and strengths, can usually be controlled by the company in question. It can change business practices to offset these weaknesses and strengthen its weakest components. As for external factors and threats, the company will not be able to change these things. Instead, it should identify these things before creating plans to shield the business from such threats.

S For Strengths – When a company looks at its strengths, it is identifying the things it does best. These things can help the company determine what makes it better than rival companies.

W For Weaknesses – Even the best company has weaknesses or things that prevent it from reaching its maximum efficiency. Weaknesses should be identified and rectified.

O For Opportunities – Every company has opportunities. Before a company can take advantage of these opportunities, they have to be identified. The SWOT analysis technique can help.

T For Threats – Businesses can use SWOT to discover potential threats that could harm the company.

As previously mentioned, SWOT analysis has been used since the 1960’s. Although it was primarily created to help with business planning, it can also be used for other purposes. For instance, someone can use the SWOT method to analyse a specific person or industry.

Understanding Personal SWOT Analysis

Businesses can benefit greatly from using the SWOT method, but individuals should not ignore its benefits. Performing a personal SWOT analysis is a good way to study a person’s opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses. The SWOT method can be used to study any person, regardless of age or career. Furthermore, it can help people find the best educational courses, career paths, and more.

Importance Of Personal SWOT Analysis

Businesses fully understand the importance of the SWOT method. As for individuals, many overlook this technique. Unfortunately, this means that they’re going to miss out on potential opportunities. When someone is preparing for immense changes, they should study their options and the potential outcomes. Otherwise, they may choose the wrong path and run into serious problems. SWOT analysis is great in this situation because it helps find the best possible route.

Relying on the technique may help the participant avoid costly mistakes, since it will identify their best attributes, weaknesses, external threats, and viable opportunities. When working through the process, you will need to jot down your strengths so you can see which advantages you have over your competitors. Learning more about your strengths will make it easier to achieve your goals.

However, it is also important to learn more about your weaknesses since they could prevent you from reaching your full potential. Once a person has discovered their weaknesses, they may be able to improve themselves in these areas. Alternatively, they can leverage their strengths to downplay their weaknesses. Finding opportunities is essential since these opportunities may empower a person to achieve their goals.

Finally, the participant should study their outside threats. It could be a competitor or room for mistakes. Once these threats are known, the person can begin taking steps to shield themselves from these issues. Truthfully, SWOT analysis can be an integral part of the decision-making process. The comprehensive self-assessment will help ensure that the participant makes the best decision to propel themselves toward their goals.

Four Quadrants

Participants will find that the analysis consists of 4 quadrants. There are internal and external factors. In terms of internal factors, the participant has to worry about their strengths and weaknesses. These things can be changed to make it easier to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, external factors cannot be changed since you cannot control your competitors.

The important external factors include threats and opportunities. To effectively identify these things, a number of questions must be answered.

Personal SWOT Analysis Steps

It isn’t difficult to perform a personal SWOT analysis, but you must know the basic steps. Once you’ve learned the steps, you can use them to study yourself, your business, your industry, and more. Start by following the steps below to complete your personal SWOT analysis.

Start By Asking Questions About Yourself

Since you’re performing a personal SWOT analysis, you need to learn more about yourself. You need to make sure that you’re getting the right answers so you’ll have a much better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. When you’re studying your strengths, you need to know about unique skills that no one else has. You’ll also want to know what you enjoy doing. It is also wise to find out what others think your strengths are. More about this will be provided below.

Identify Strengths

First, you should identify your most important strengths. Find out what you like doing and what you’re good at. Do you have any skills that other people do not? Identify your strengths because you can use this information to find the best career path for you.

Identify Weaknesses

Although some people don’t want to admit it, everyone has weaknesses. There could be things that are preventing you from accomplishing things. Write these things down. You also need to find out which attributes and skills need to be improved. Finally, be sure to pinpoint your bad habits.

Find Opportunities

You have to discover your best opportunities. Most people can find opportunities by using their personal network, since family, friends, and colleagues will be only too pleased to help. Find out how your skills can make you a good choice for a specific career path. Identify potential changes in your desired industry that you may be able to benefit from later.

Understanding Threats

Finally, you should begin asking questions about potential threats. Is there a chance that aspects of your personality are hurting your career prospects? Are competitors doing a better job than you? Do other applicants have certain skills that you do not? Will your financial situation prevent you from achieving your goal?

Gather The Answers

Once you’ve identified the key questions, you should begin writing down the answers. Don’t be afraid to write down even the smallest points because they can make a big difference. Having a more comprehensive self-assessment will make it more effective as well.

Question Others

You’ll only have so many answers so you’ll have to ask others as well. Your coworkers and bosses can tell you a lot about your strengths, weaknesses, and more. Make sure that these people are being honest. Otherwise, generous answers may provide inaccurate results.

Write Everything Down

Along the way, you should have written everything down. If you haven’t, make sure that you do it now. Once you’ve done this, you should look over your answers to see which ones are not important. These answers can be removed if they’re not going to make a difference.

Finding Solutions

Near the end of the SWOT analysis, you must begin working to find solutions. The self-assessment can help you discover ways to resolve your personal problems and overcome external obstacles. You can use this information to develop a plan to achieve your goals.

SWOT Analysis For Specific Careers

The process will be slightly different, depending on the participant’s desired career path. For instance, someone attempting to obtain a degree in business will have different answers and threats than someone in the customer relations field. Regardless, each applicant can use SWOT to learn more about themselves and their career fields so they can make the best decisions.

Each person just needs to provide the relevant answers and study them to ensure that they’re moving towards their goal.

Example SWOT Analysis: College Student


  • Time Management: Proficient in managing academic workloads, part-time job, and extra-curricular activities.
  • Tech-Savvy: Highly skilled in using digital platforms and tools for research, presentations, and communication.
  • Team Player: Has a track record of collaborating effectively on group projects and in student organisations.
  • Adaptability: Able to quickly adjust to various teaching styles and course structures.


  • Procrastination: Sometimes waits until the last minute to start assignments or study for exams.
  • Public Speaking: Experiences anxiety when presenting in front of the class or larger audiences.
  • Overcommitment: Tends to take on too many responsibilities, leading to stress and potential burnout.
  • Limited Professional Experience: Primarily academic knowledge, with limited real-world experience or internships in chosen field.


  • Internships: Several companies offer internships to students, allowing them to gain practical experience.
  • Networking Events: The college regularly hosts seminars and workshops where students can connect with professionals.
  • Study Abroad: The possibility to study a semester abroad can offer cultural insights and a global perspective.
  • Online Courses: Can supplement college education with specialised online courses to gain more in-depth knowledge or skills.


  • Economic Downturn: An economic recession can impact job opportunities after graduation.
  • Competition: Many peers with similar or even better qualifications competing for the same positions or opportunities.
  • Rapid Technological Change: The risk of current skills becoming obsolete as technology and industries evolve.
  • Student Loan Debt: The burden of student loans can limit post-graduation choices and opportunities.

Example SWOT Analysis: Adult Student Teacher


  • Life Experience: Brings a rich tapestry of real-world experiences to the classroom that can enhance lessons and student understanding.
  • Maturity: Has a higher level of patience and emotional intelligence due to age and experiences, which can be helpful in classroom management.
  • Diverse Skill Set: May have skills and knowledge from a previous career that can be integrated into teaching.
  • Dedication: The decision to switch to teaching later in life often indicates a strong commitment to the profession and a passion for making a difference.


  • Technological Learning Curve: Might face challenges adapting to the latest educational technology and tools.
  • Physical Stamina: Longer hours on their feet and the demands of managing a classroom might be challenging.
  • Adaptation to Institutional Routines: Navigating the bureaucracy and politics of school systems may be new and challenging.
  • Balancing Commitments: Juggling between family, maybe another job, and the demands of student teaching can be daunting.


  • Mentorship: Can establish meaningful mentor-mentee relationships with experienced teachers who value the unique perspective of an adult student teacher.
  • Community Engagement: Leveraging previous connections from other careers or experiences for classroom activities or projects.
  • Professional Development: Access to continuous learning opportunities, both to improve teaching skills and to bridge any technological gaps.
  • Alternate Pathways: Some educational systems offer fast-track or alternate certification routes for mature entrants into teaching.


  • Age Bias: Potential bias from colleagues or hiring administrators who may favour younger, traditionally-trained teachers.
  • Dynamic Curriculum Changes: The curriculum and educational strategies might evolve, requiring continuous adaptation.
  • Financial Pressures: If transitioning from a higher-paying job, the initial teacher salary might be a significant adjustment.
  • Work-Life Balance: Given the demands of teaching, lesson planning, grading and family, achieving a work-life balance might be more challenging.


Who Should Complete A SWOT Analysis?

Many can benefit from using the SWOT analysis. Whether the participant is a business owner or they’re preparing for a future career, they should complete a quick SWOT analysis to ensure they’re making the right decisions. The technique is universally helpful so it can be used by businesses, students, investors, and more.

Before making any big education or career decision, use the SWOT technique to ensure that you’re not making the wrong decision.

Who Can Benefit From A Personal SWOT Analysis?

Children, teenagers, young adults, and seniors can greatly benefit. Facing the biggest decision of your life, analyse your strengths and weaknesses. It is ideal for professional athletes, educators, entrepreneurs, students, patients, scientists, small business owners, and people considering a political career.

When Is A SWOT Analysis Necessary?

Students of all ages can benefit from a SWOT analysis at any time. There is no set time to take advantage of these studies. In fact, the technique can come in handy in preparation for exams at any time. While more common among college students, school aged students can benefit as well.

The technique can be done on the go or in the comfort of your home.

How Does A Personal SWOT Analysis Work?

The process does not require any special skills, materials, or preparation. A PC or laptop is preferable but not necessary. Students can jot down their weaknesses and strengths on a sheet of paper.

Utilising columns to keep the strengths and weaknesses separated, students will have a better idea of what they need to work on. To maximise the benefit of the technique, incorporate your threats and opportunities into the mix. It is recommended to focus only on the important aspects of your life. Otherwise, the process will just be a waste of time.

What Benefits Are Offered By A Personal SWOT Analysis?

There are way too many benefits to list in this article. It is recommended to have a target (goal) in mind in advance to rule out any risk of confusion. 

The primary benefit of the method is for students to identify their weaknesses. It can be incorporated into the decision-making process. For example, students can rely on the technique to decide which career path to take after leaving school.

What is a SWOT analysis?

SWOT analysis is a technique used to study a subject’s internal weaknesses and strengths as well as external opportunities and threats. It is used in various industries including business, marketing, and teaching.

What does SWOT stand for?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Who developed the SWOT technique?

The SWOT technique was developed in the 1960’s by Albert Humphrey and his team at the Stanford Research Institute.

What was the SWOT technique initially called?

Initially, it was known as the SOFT analysis, which stood for satisfactory, opportunity, fault and threat.

How can students benefit from a SWOT analysis?

It helps them gain insight into their best and worst attributes, enabling them to make better decisions about educational courses, career paths and more.

How is a personal SWOT analysis conducted?

It involves asking questions about oneself to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This can be done by jotting down points on a sheet of paper and seeking feedback from others.

What are the four quadrants of a SWOT analysis?

They are Strengths, Weaknesses (internal factors), Opportunities and Threats (external factors).

When should someone conduct a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis can be done anytime, especially before making big educational, career, or business decisions.

Who should perform a SWOT analysis?

It is beneficial for businesses, students, investors, educators, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, and many more.

What are the primary benefits of a personal SWOT analysis?

It helps individuals identify their weaknesses and strengths, aids in decision-making, and assists in choosing the right career path or education field.

Can businesses also benefit from a SWOT analysis?

Yes, businesses can use SWOT to identify company strengths, weaknesses, potential threats, and viable opportunities, assisting in strategic planning and decision-making.

How is the SWOT technique helpful for career-specific analysis?

It allows individuals to provide relevant answers related to their desired career path, helping them move towards their goals.

How does one ensure the accuracy of a SWOT analysis?

It’s important to seek feedback from others, like coworkers and bosses, and ensure they provide honest opinions.

Why was the SWOT analysis initially developed?

The technique was created to enable businesses to form more sustained strategies.

Can a SWOT analysis be done without special equipment?

Yes, a basic SWOT analysis can be done with just a sheet of paper, although using a PC or laptop might be preferable for more detailed analysis.


The SWOT method can help the participant identify their best attributes, their worst attributes, and the threats they may face. Then, they can begin working to find ways to overcome problems and use their strengths to their benefit.

A SWOT analysis can be completed in a few minutes, although it is important to speak to others. It could make the difference between picking the wrong career field and selecting one in which the applicant will thrive.

Further reading

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

This book is a guide to help individuals discover and leverage their personal strengths for career and personal success. It includes an updated assessment tool, providing a personalized Strengths Profile to the reader. The book argues that focusing on strengths, rather than weaknesses, is key to achieving success and satisfaction in life.

How to Make Decisions with Different Kinds of Student Assessment Data by Susan M. Brookhart

This educational resource provides teachers and administrators with frameworks for making informed decisions based on various types of student assessment data. It covers multiple forms of assessments, such as formative, summative, and diagnostic, offering practical strategies for data interpretation and instructional adjustment. The book aims to make data-driven instruction accessible and actionable.

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors by Michael E. Porter

A seminal text in business strategy, this book introduces the concept of “Five Forces” to analyze the competitive environment of an industry. Porter discusses how companies can gain a sustainable competitive advantage by understanding the structure of their industry and positioning themselves effectively. The book is a foundational text for managers, business students, and consultants.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck

Dweck’s book introduces the concept of “fixed” and “growth” mindsets, proposing that one’s mindset shapes one’s ability to learn and succeed. It argues that having a growth mindset—believing that abilities can be developed—fosters a more adaptive behavior, including a desire for effort and willingness to face challenges. The book has broad implications, from education to personal development.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

This book delves into the psychology of motivation, challenging traditional carrot-and-stick approaches. Pink argues that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are far more effective motivators than external rewards and punishments. He presents evidence and real-world examples to support his claims, offering a new framework for motivating people in various settings.

The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschäppeler

This book is a compact resource offering 50 models for better understanding the world, making decisions, and solving problems. Each model is presented in a simplified, easily digestible format, and the book spans multiple disciplines including psychology, business, and philosophy. It serves as a handy toolkit for decision-makers at all levels.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The book introduces the dual systems of thinking: System 1, which is fast and intuitive, and System 2, which is slower and more deliberative. Kahneman explores the biases and errors that come from these systems, impacting our judgment and decision-making.

Soar with Your Strengths: A Simple Yet Revolutionary Philosophy of Business and Management by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson

This book argues that the key to success in business and management is to focus on enhancing inherent strengths rather than fixing weaknesses. Using real-world examples, it outlines how both individuals and organizations can benefit from adopting a strengths-based approach. The book builds on Clifton’s earlier work in positive psychology, providing actionable strategies for business leaders.


A comprehensive resource for various management tools, including SWOT analysis. They offer tools, templates, and tips on implementing SWOT in both business and personal contexts.

Website URL: mindtools.com


Based on the principles of the “StrengthsFinder 2.0” book, this website offers tests and resources to discover and leverage individual strengths.

Website URL: gallupstrengthscenter.com

Harvard Business Review

HBR has a myriad of articles discussing strategic planning, decision-making, and management theories. Their case studies can offer real-world examples of SWOT in action.

Website URL: hbr.org

Myers & Briggs Foundation

This website can be invaluable for personal development, offering insights based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Understanding oneself can play into strengths and weaknesses identification.

Website URL: myersbriggs.org

Decision Making Solutions

This website focuses solely on the art and science of decision making, offering tools, techniques, and advice.

Website URL: decision-making-solutions.com

Strategic Management Insight

They offer a wealth of information on strategic management, including detailed explanations of SWOT analysis.

Website URL: strategicmanagementinsight.com


A mind mapping community where many users share SWOT analysis templates and examples.

Website URL: biggerplate.com

TED Talks

While not strictly about SWOT, many TED Talks discuss personal development, decision-making, and strategic thinking. It’s a great source of inspiration.

Website URL: ted.com

The Decision Lab

A think-tank that publishes content about behavioural science and decision-making. It can offer deeper insights into the ‘decision-making’ aspect of the content.

Website URL: thedecisionlab.com

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Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

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