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Smiling successful Asian businesswoman


Shining Applicants is a process and an outcome. Through our polishing and individually tailored consulting services, we empower you to stand out as a shining star in competitive and selective processes.

Reach out to us if your goal is to excel in applications for:

  • University admissions into undergraduate, masters, or Ph.D. degree programs in the United States or abroad.

  • Prestigious scholarships, fellowships, and grant awards.

  • International visiting scholars, exchange programs, and study abroad.

  • Internships or employment opportunities.

  • US visas and immigration benefits.

Competing in selective programs and opportunities requires more than just impressive credentials. Selective organizations want the best candidates who stand out from the crowd, demonstrate fit and compatibility with their values, culture, and mission.

Contact us today for additional information

shining applicants international visiting schoolar
shining applicants undergraduate college student


At Shining Applicants, you are the rising star, and we want you to shine brightly. We provide customized individual consulting services tailored to your needs. We invest our time in getting to know you and understand your goals. We apply that knowledge to tailor our services and help you shine. We invite you to create your own consulting package by selecting any or a combination of our services, or chose one of the packages that you feel best meets your needs. We will also make recommendations as we get to know you. At Shining Applicants, your success is our success.


Alex Akulli portrait-3.jpg

Alex Akulli 
Ph.D., L.P.C. 

President, Founder & Senior Consultant

Dr. Alex Akulli has over 20 years of experience in higher education as an academic and administrator. He has served thousands of US and international students, families, and visiting scholars at both public and private universities in the United States. Alex graduated from Michigan State University with a Ph.D. Degree in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education (ranked top 5 in USA).


Clients who work with Alex benefit from his expertise in international admissions and study abroad, career and academic advising, international student and scholar services, visa and immigration compliance, exchange programs, and coaching applicants for prestigious scholarships.

Alex is the recipient of several scholarship and fellowship awards. He has also served as an evaluator and reviewer for prestigious national and international scholarships, fellowships, grant awards, scientific journals, and international conferences.

Alex is an engaged academic. He teaches at universities in the United States and in Germany. In the US he also mentors doctoral students and supervises their dissertation research. Alex has delivered numerous invited lectures in several countries, presented scientific research papers, and facilitated practitioner seminars at many academic and professional conferences in the USA and abroad.


Throughout his career, Alex has maintained professional membership with the Fulbright Association, National Association of Academic Advisers, Association of International Educators, the Forum on Education Abroad, the Professional and Organization Network in Higher Education, and the Comparative and International Education Society.

Sam Akulli, Ph.D. shining applicants senior consultant

Sam Akulli
Ph.D., P.M.P.

Senior Consultant

Dr. Sam Akulli brings over a decade of experience in academia, project management, information technology management, and international student support services. His passion for working with students is rooted in his own success journey and the wise counsel of his mentors.


Sam received his Ph.D. Degree in Education from The Ohio State University. Sam’s students benefit from his professional career as a project manager at government agencies in Ohio, teaching MBA and doctoral students at a university in the United States, mentoring and teaching undergraduate students at a university in Europe.


Sam has published his research in various journals in Europe and the United States and has spoken at multiple international conferences. His research and scholarship focus on educational philosophy, policy, and technology; emerging philosophies of education; international education; leadership and management.


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