Sometimes you see two trends going in different directions, and you wonder which side is crazy. Here's an example.

Trend #1: College admissions and drama

It's never been harder to get into an elite college in the United States. The undergraduate admission rate at Harvard was 4.5 percent last year. At Columbia: 5.1 percent; at Princeton and Yale 5.8 and 5.9 percent.

That sort of explains (although obviously doesn't excuse) why so many wealthy parents have been caught up in the college admissions scandal, with some now going to prison for their crimes. 

But if you're not wealthy (and you don't wind up with significant scholarships), graduating from a U.S. college also means big time debt: an average of $29,800 for the class of 2018.

Trend #2: Hiring strategies that don't involve college

A survey of 1,006 hiring managers in tech and engineering fields earlier this year found that 80 percent said "there is a gap between available talent and the type of talent they need."

Earlier this year, a group of CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook met with President Trump to address employment in America. 

The top takeaway from their meeting in March? The degree to which they are increasingly hiring people who don't even have college degrees.

"We never thought that the college degree was the thing that you had to have to do well," Cook said (according to Reuters), adding that "our founder was a college dropout," an apparent reference to Steve Jobs.

  • Others in the meeting included IBM CEO Ginni Rometty: "We have a chance to employ so many more people - and not always with a college degree, a less than a four-year degree will get a very good paying job in the new economy."
  • Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson said that her company hired 14,000 people during 2018, but only half of them had college degrees.
  • Separately, a LinkedIn analysis earlier this year found that 26 percent of LinkedIn members who are electrical technicians, for example, and who report that they are working at firms listed on LinkedIn's Top Companies List (including Alphabet (Google), Facebook, Salesforce, Uber, Apple, Airbnb, Netflix and 23 others), also report they don't have a college degree.

"Not only do I not have a four-year, degree but I'm also a high school dropout and worked the graveyard shift as a baker until I landed my first design gig," a Netflix UX designer named Hannah Maddy told LinkedIn.

What can you do with a B.A. in English?

Okay, let's bring these two trends together -- well, as closely as we can.

The idea of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a college degree only makes sense from a financial perspective if the return on investment. 

For years, that was clear. Go back a decade, and reports suggested that a four-year college graduate would make $2.8 million more on average over a lifetime versus someone with just a high school diploma.

That's a bit extreme, you might suspect, given that there's a big middle ground of people with associate's degrees or at least "some college."

But it's also possibly irrelevant now. And it's why I say we have two trends going in different directions.

I never though that my B.A. in English (yes, I have one), would make that much of a difference in terms of my net worth. I somewhat naively thought I'd be financially successful regardless.

But it looks like when it comes to some of their most important positions, the big tech companies are looking past college -- and recruiting for needed skills instead of degrees.

It's a pretty smart strategy, and one that more companies are likely to copy. Maybe yours should, too.