I agree with networking.
And if you send applications, just list accomplishments, not education. If you have to fill out education, just check university, and explain when you meet face to face. It is called initiative. Or get a cheap degree from a non-acredited university, doesn't matter if it is bible studies, knitting or something else. Then you have your checkmark and will continue to round 2.
But I agree that I see more and more programmers, developers (programmers who can think further than copy/paste) seems to be a dying breed.