The College of Winterhold is one of the 12 factions available for you to join in TES: Skyrim. While some factions will accept you into their ranks with open arms (mostly), the College is different in the sense that you must first prove yourself worthy of magic by passing a quick entry test. After that, you'll be introduced to a colorful cast of mages that inhabit the College grounds, some of which are stronger than they look and some which, despite their status, are a bit underwhelming.
Here are the 15 members of the College, ranked from worst to first.
We would be lying if we said Nirya didn't make the bottom of this list because of spite. She's easily the most unlikable character in the entire College, in part due to her High Elf heritage but also because of her undying arrogance.
She believes herself to be the best sorceress on College grounds, and once you're promoted to Arch-Mage, she'll do anything to get your attention and become your favorite.
14 Sergius Turrianus
Sergius is the man to go to if you need help with Enchanting, except that he's usually less than helpful with enchanting itself. Sure, he'll teach you the ways of Enchanting, but he won't enchant anything for you because he's too "busy."
He's also fond of complaining how Nords enjoy their enchanted weapons but otherwise shun magic. Seems like he's mostly useless and grumpy, which is why he's at the bottom of the list as well.
13 Drevis Neloren
Drevis is one of the lecturers in the College in Skyrim, specialized in Illusion magic. It's ironic then, that he's often surprised that we can see him. It seems like he's not as competent with his own craft as his status would suggest.
Not just that, he somehow gets himself kidnapped to Tolvald's cave during a Companions quest and needs to be rescued and escorted back to the College. To think this man is a lecturer, and yet so helpless, too!
12 Brelyna Maryon
Brelyna is said to show a lot of natural talent and promise, but we never actually get a glimpse of that potential during our time in the College. She keeps to herself and doesn't really enjoy answering our questions.
It takes a while for her to warm up, and she usually prefers books over the company of others. A student like us, she's too engaged in her studies to care about anything else.
Onmund is a pretty awesome character, as he's a Nord at the College. Nords usually don't like magic, but he chose his path despite his family not agreeing with his passion. Onmund has a good heart and he's eager to learn, but the fact that he somehow trusts Enthir with his precious family amulet makes him really gullible.
He's not the best companion around either, fairly weak and tends to change back to his weak mage robes despite better armor in his inventory.
10 Savos Aren
You would think that the Arch-Mage of the College itself would make it higher on this list, but Savos is a huge disappointment in our eyes. Not only did he screw up and leave his fellow mages behind to seal off Morokei, which is just a crappy move as a friend, but he's also unable to stop Ancano and the Eye of Magnus from killing him.
It puts his position as Arch-Mage into question, especially when he ends up so easily replaced after his death by none other than the Dragonborn himself.
9 Phinis Gestor
Phinis is a strange, somewhat controversial character. He's the College's Conjuration lecturer and seems to have an obsession with controlling creatures summoned from other realms.
Not only that, but he's perfectly fine with the art of necromancy, which was frowned upon by the Mage's Guild. The redeeming part is that he at least advises us to practice necromancy and conjuration only behind College walls.
8 Colette Marence
Colette is a misunderstood figure inside the College, at least from what we learn from her. As the Restoration lecturer, she feels insecure about her capabilities and seems to think that the other lecturers are making fun of her behind her back.
Most likely, she's just incredibly paranoid and lacks the self-confidence to own her own craft. After all, Restoration is one of the most powerful schools in the game and will serve any mage or half-mage well in combat.
Part of the welcoming committee, it's Faralda that awaits at the entry to the College and puts us through a small test to see if we're worthy of the College. She's not exactly the nicest woman around, coming off as a bit callous and cautious.
You can't exactly blame her with all the hate in Winterhold for the College. She ends up helping us fight off the Magical Anomalies in Winterhold during the main quest, so perhaps her not-so-warm welcome ends up forgiven.
6 Arniel Gane
Arniel is a rather mysterious member of the College and doesn't speak much about what he's working on exactly, even after you've become the Arch-Mage yourself. However, once you progress through his quest and witness his mysterious disappearance into a Shade form, it becomes evident he's among the brightest members of the College.
Unfortunately, his experiments are his undoing, and he becomes a ghostly figure you can even summon in combat to come and aid you.
Enthir is proof that the Thieves' Guild really does have eyes and ears everywhere in Skyrim, even inside the College. He's a fence and will be part of both College side quests as well as the Thieves' Guild main quest. Generally quite shady, he's not the most trustworthy character and seems to have questionable ethics.
Still, his powerful ties make him an asset to both of his factions and someone you shouldn't mess with, as proven with Onmund's quest.
4 Urag gro-Shub
Urag isn't the fighting type, but he's a devoted protector of the College's library, which is why he tops this list. One can only imagine the kind of immense knowledge he holds in his head, and all the books he's memorized since he began his work in the College.
He'll give you plenty of quests to go find his missing tomes, rewarding you with tons of skill books and gold. Not the kindest member, but he's knowledgeable and deserved respect for that alone.
J'zargo is a fellow student of yours once you join the College, and he's immensely arrogant. He's so certain of his skill that nothing seems to convince him he's not the best thing to have walked Tamriel.
There is some truth to this, as his level will continue to rise over time in relation to the player's, so he'll always have an edge. Because of this he also makes a fine Companion, if you can tolerate his arrogant attitude for longer than five minutes.
2 Mirabelle Ervine
Mirabelle is the true muscle behind the College when we first enter. She's in charge of taking in all the new students and ensuring everything runs properly. Without her, it's safe to say the College could be in total chaos.
What makes her such an amazing member of the guild is that during the main quest she sacrifices herself so that other members can make their way out alive. Her devotion is unmatched, even by the Arch-Mage himself.
There's one person that probably deserved the position of Arch-Made more so than the Dragonborn or even Savos Aren, and it's Tolfdir. He's an incredibly open-minded lecturer and powerful mage despite his age.
His kindness is just so evident the moment we go through our first class with him and he teaches us the Lesser Ward spell. After the College's main quest line is done, he takes Mirabelle's position, but his wisdom, patience, and devotion definitely merit him the position of Arch-Mage.