In the past, the words “self-esteem” and “self-worth” were used interchangeably–as if they were synonyms for one another. They both referred to how a person felt about himself. As a result of ground-breaking research conducted by the Children’s Center for Self-Esteem, in cooperation with the University of Texas School of Public Health (Houston), the words now have been assigned two very different meanings.

This new research demonstrates that a more definitive means of self-evaluation is to picture each of us as having an over-all “self-concept” consisting of two very distinct components: self-worth and self-esteem.

  • Self-worth is generated by our being efficient, productive, and successful. Self-worth is our evaluation of what we do.
  • Self-esteem is created by our being unconditionally loved and accepted in spite of the fact that we are not perfect. Self-esteem allows us to value ourselves on the basis of who we are.

The new research further demonstrates that self-esteem (which is fueled by unconditional love) contributes twice as much to a positive self-concept as does self-worth (which is fueled by performance).


(fueled by performance)(fueled by unconditional love)

A primary reason for your being in school is to learn, to master the content of your courses, and to make as good grades as you are capable of achieving–in short, to perform! However, one of the most important aspects of a good, well-rounded education is developing relationships and social skills. In fact, all the performance in the world won’t bring you much satisfaction and gratification unless you feel that others love you and care for you because of who you are rather than for what you do.

ARK for College is an informal, peer-mentoring process through which young adults can talk and share–in a trusting, confidential environment–and learn to give and receive the unconditional love that gives purpose and meaning to life.

Section 1: Being on Your Own

The lessons include:

Lesson 1: Feeling Scared and Alone

Lesson 2: Handling your new Freedom

Lesson 3: Achieving Academic Success

Section 2: Dealing with Other People

The lessons include:

Lesson 4: Developing Tolerance and an Appreciation for Diversity

Lesson 5: Connecting with Others

Lesson 6: Being Around Difficult People

Section 3: Making the Tough Decisions

The lessons include:

Lesson 7: Regarding Sex…

Lesson 8: Concerning Alcohol and Other Drugs

Lesson 9: Deciding What You Want To Be

Section 4: Running to Your Strengths

The lessons include:

Lesson 10: Stretching Your Boundaries

Lesson 11: Making a Difference

Lesson 12: Celebrating Your Uniqueness