If you're in an IBM program, you probably have no choice but to complete their requirements. I'd urge you to obtain some extra help, probably in the form of tutoring, to help you deal with the areas where you say you're having trouble. These are all fundamental programming language constructs that any language will usually implement, and that Java supports in its own form and fashion. You must know this stuff to program in just about any language, in fact, even though syntax and implementation details will vary wildly. Thus, I don't think you can forgo these topics, and that you should get some help and work your way through this essential subject matter. As for the demand and rewards for Java programmers, if you can stick it out and master the material that's troubling you, you will be pleasantly surprised by what lies ahead. Most Java programmers earn $55K per year and up (some go way up from there--I know of some Java programmers who make more than $120,000 per year, but these are senior-level architects with 10+ years of serious, credible programming experience) in the US, and demand remains strong despite a faltering economy. I urge you to stick with your program, to master the material you're confronting, and continue on to Java. You will have an easier time when you learn Java for having learned C, so please do your best.
This was first published in July 2001