Essentially rejected and in need of clarification for my plan next year.

In my opinion the #1 reason to attend a service academy is to serve the nation as an officer in the armed forces. If you want to attend for a different reason then maybe you should re-evaluate your goals. ROTC is a completely acceptable means to do this and produces fine officers. Showing the academy that service to your nation is important through an ROTC commitment is the best way to shine.

The OP didn't not get a nomination last year from his MOC and ROTC offers a alternate path to a nomination. Being enrolled in a Senior ROTC program irregardless of scholarship makes you eligible for a service connected nomination. If you only receive one nomination you only have one real shot at gaining an appointment. Most people who come off the NWL have multiple nominations, stellar stats and missed out on their slate for special reasons. The more chances you have to compete for an appointment from a nomination source the better your chances of admittance. You are correct that NROTC is not required but the OP should investigate all options. Nominations are basically unlimited for Senior ROTC cadets but there are a maximum of 20 Appointments that can be charged.

The real question the OP needs to answer is why did he not get a nomination from his local MOC. Something tells me if he honestly looks in the mirror, he knows what was lacking and if he can improve on it.

Thank you for the response. The #1 reason for me trying to go into the military is to serve my country. However, I have other reasons as well, such as wanting to do something with my life in which I will look back and think, "Yeah, at least I made a little bit of difference in the world and did something with my life". This belief, in living/doing something with my life, I believe, will be enhanced if I were to see combat in the military. Granted I would be happy with any position as long as I am serving, but I feel as if the USNA will better prepare for the positions that I truly want (because I know how competitive it is), whether it be Marine Ground (eventually Recon or MARSOC) or NSW.