Its tough to put a finger on it. As we are from New Haven, and can roll out of bed and be at Phelps Gate in a matter of minutes... so we don't see Yale as everyone else does. We pass through campus hundreds of times/year and so they are just buildings to us. Its a part of our city, makes up a huge part of it for that matter. Like those who live near the Eiffel Tower... or those who live near the Royal Palace. LOL I know I am exaggerating here but you get the point. If you were impressed by what you saw at the admission events in your area, then being there is all the more impressive.
It was as if we weren't even in New Haven while we were on campus, transported to another place. They spoke of the residential college system and how its such a family atmosphere. We got to see the inside of those buildings that we pass by every day. We got to see the faces and hear the voices of the people that admit, advise and teach the students for four years. Yale went from being a series of huge buildings, the place that pays no taxes to the City of New Haven(which has been a bone of contention for New Havenites for years) to a place with faces, and people and stories. A place that cares. Not to mention the vast resources that they have/lay before the students feet. Yale became human for us. DD14 had no interest in applying, I actually had to do much cojoling for the past 6 weeks before she agreed to go. She too saw it in a different way.