Silver chain with a broken link symbolizing weakness

Overcoming Institutional Weaknesses

We all have strengths … and weaknesses. It feels much better to think about the strengths, though. Who wants to really dwell on their weaknesses? It takes a lot more energy, and certainly doesn’t feel very good.

So, it’s no wonder why people bump “address institutional weaknesses” to the bottom of the to-do list. But here’s the thing about weaknesses: they don’t go away on their own. They are always there – unless you work on them.

Silver chain with a broken link symbolizing weakness

I once had a faculty member tell me I was a comma-holic. Apparently, I put a lot of commas in sentences, everywhere (pun intended). I had no idea until the faculty member presented me with the undeniable evidence in a paper. Given this new insight, I could continue to write as I always had – like a comma-holic. Or I could do what any good researcher does … I sought out expert advice via Google and bought a book on how to improve.

We all know it’s hard to address your own weaknesses. But it is even harder to address weaknesses you aren’t even aware that you have.

Man looking out a window with shadows of the window blinds on his face. Symbolizing the challenges of identifying and correcting Institutional Weaknesses.

Institutions Have Weaknesses Too

Some institutional weaknesses are obvious and some are not. And, like personal weaknesses, some leaders may not even recognize them. But as is the case with personal weaknesses … institutional weaknesses exist whether we address them or not. And I’d say its better to recognize your own institutional weaknesses (and address them) before others begin to point them out. Like anything – weaknesses that are neglected continue to fester.

What Can You Do About Institutional Weaknesses?

As in your personal life, it’s best to address institutional weaknesses head on. There is a certain sense of “spring cleaning” that can come from getting the topic out in the open and beginning the discussion. There are several advantages to getting the conversation underway:

  • Create awareness of the issue (remember – not everyone has noticed this particular weakness).
  • Identify severity of the issue (discussion may reveal that it isn’t as bad as one might have thought).
  • Find the bright side (maybe the weakness can be turned into a strength).

Is Student Success Your Institution’s Weakness?

Student success is often one of those topics where weaknesses aren’t always obvious. Most institutions do a better job of graduating some students than others. But which ones? It’s important to figure out your student success weak spots. RealityCheck helps institutions figure out which student groups they are serving well so they can focus on improving the student success of the ones they aren’t.


Want to Learn More?

Learn more and get a sneak peek at your 2020 RealityCheck results. 




The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education (IEHE) innovates and improves higher education standards through our strategic research, publicly available resources, and partnerships with colleges and universities. We provide extensive expertise on data strategy, IPEDS, institutional research and student success to drive institutional effectiveness.