APO isn’t competitive at all - anyone in good academic standing is allowed to participate in the rush/pledge process. But that doesn’t mean we’re just a club. People who pledge APO have to attend pledge classes, interview Brothers, participate in a certain number of social activities, complete community service hours, and participate in the fraternity’s rituals of initiation. Some chapters also have it written in their bylaws that Brothers pursuing advanced degrees may remain active in the chapter as long as they are in good standing (completing hours, attendance at meetings, dues).
After feeling that I was lost at sea in college, joining APO allowed me to meet a whole bunch of people from all different majors and class standings who cared about the same things I care about. I was a lector for my university’s Catholic chapel, and it was always so cool to look out at the congregation and see a bunch of my APO Brothers all sitting together. And at least at my alma mater, APO provides a sort of de-facto support network for Brothers who don’t always make it to mass like they ought to. More than a few Brothers have started going to mass again because they can go with their Big, Little, Family head, or activity co-chair.