High school seniors-to-be, you can start salivating.

U.S. News and World Report on Tuesday released its "Best Colleges" rankings for 2011, and five Washington-area schools appeared on the lists of top 25 national and liberal arts universities.

Johns Hopkins, Georgetown and the University of Virginia were all slotted among the best national universities, with Hopkins ranked highest among all regional schools at No. 13.

The magazine ranked Georgetown 21st, while the University of Virginia squeaked in at No. 25. Virginia also appeared near the top of the list of best public universities, where it tied for second place with the University of California, Los Angeles.

The College of William and Mary, George Washington University, the University of Maryland at College Park and Virginia Tech all cracked the top 75.

Washington and Lee University made the magazine's list of top national liberal arts colleges, where it was ranked No. 14. The U.S. Naval Academy checked in just two spots lower at No. 16.

U.S. News and World Report has published its contentious rankings for the past 25 years. This year they include more than 1,400 four-year schools, each rated according to 16 criteria.

Those criteria include graduation rate, class size and other factors the magazine's editors deem most important to a school's performance.

U.S. News Editor Brian Kelly said the goal of the rankings is to provide students and families with the "best information" to choose a school and to guide them through the college admissions process.

But not everyone agrees with the magazine's assessments.

Critics say the U.S. News rankings are nothing more than a gimmick to sell magazines, and argue that a school's prestige and exclusivity play far too great a role in the magazine's appraisals. Others say it's impossible to accurately compare one school's academic performance to another's based on so few criteria.

The magazine ranked Harvard University as the top national university, and Massachusetts' Williams College as the nation's top liberal arts school.