The shoe was painted red with a detailed reproduction of the McGill crest on the side and a note accompanied the package which read, "Well now that I've got my foot in the door, I hope you'll consider my application seriously."
Although the shoe was displayed in the admissions department for years, her effort and creative presentation had no bearing on whether she was accepted, says Kim Bartlett McGill's director of admissions. Indeed, although the story has become an office legend, no one can remember whether she got in.
It's a lesson for students who stray from the simple rules of filling out an application and try to sway admissions offices with over-the-top presentations or essays that seem to never end.
"Creative packaging, family photos, swimming medals or recordings of their latest piano recital really do not make a difference in the admission decision," says Ms. Bartlett, who adds that certain programs may have their own requirements. "Recordings might not be superfluous if you are applying to the faculty of music, but basically read what the university wants from you and stick to that."
University of Toronto registrar Karel Swift agrees: "Don't send in a 100-page book if we're asking for a four-page profile."
Besides, efforts to jazz up your application and attract attention are becoming increasingly redundant as many universities have switched to electronic applications.
But before you even get to that point, university admissions offices across the country say there is work to do.
Start early years before you even put pen to paper. By Grade 10, students should be considering what they want to study and which prerequisite courses they need to achieve their goals.
"We often talk to students who don't start doing that until halfway through Grade 12," says Helen Samson, University of British Columbia assistant registrar for undergraduate admissions. But Grade 12 is much too late. You could lose a year just catching up on the required classes.
In the meantime, check out the websites of the universities (and their student unions). If time and finances permit, try to visit some of the ones you're interested in.
"If you're going to spend potentially four years in a place you should at least know what it feels like," Ms. Swift says.
Once you've decided which universities would be a good fit for you, talk to your high-school counsellor about getting the applications.
"An application full of typos and spelling mistakes would ultimately have an impact on a student's ability to demonstrate their academic credential," Ms. Samson says.
Create a check list of what you need to do. Do you have the entire form filled out? Do you have all the supporting documents? Have you signed and dated at all the appropriate places?
So the die is cast, the application has been sent and all that's left to do is wait.
The waiting game
The waiting game is the hardest part of all.
It's the beginning of your adult life and there are many, many more forms to fill out, several lines to wait in, and numerous paths to follow.
Your time will come. It helps, of course, to prepare the best possible application package. Listen to the professionals and you'll be on your way.