FP101: Back-to-School Shopping

Video Timestamps:

  • Fountain pen advantages (1:09)
  • Fountain pen drawbacks (5:26)
  • Notebook recommendations (6:18)
  • Writing comparisons (Rhodia/Mead) (14:06)
  • Pen recommendations (16:06)
  • Ink recommendations (18:49)
  • Highlighter recommendations (21:53)

Fountain Pen Advantages
There are some distinct advantages to using fountain pens as a student. 
  • They’re more economical over the long haul, mainly because the cost of ink (per volume) is much lower than ballpoints or rollerballs, though it does take a while to reach a break even point if you’re having to invest in the pen, ink, and paper all at once. 
  • Writing notes with fountain pens is fun.  This is debatable of course, but many would argue that using a smooth-flowing fountain pen with bright and saturated inks is far more interesting than scratching away with a ballpoint. 
  • Helps you retain. Not only does writing longhand fire off more synapses in your brain, but putting the laptop away and breaking out the pen will allow you to focus more on what the professor is saying. It’s been a little while since I’ve been in school, but Facebook came out when I was in college and I know how many people completely ignored what was being said in class because of social media distractions!
  • Can make you stand out to your professors. A fair number of teachers and college professors shop with me, and they tell me how much they appreciate handwriting. Many of them even encourage their students to write with fountain pens, or gather up little pen meet ups for fountain pen fans. While surely this benefit is a little more of a long-shot, if both you and your professor happen to be into pens, it gives you something good to build rapport with them. 
  • Keeps your hand from cramping. Because fountain pen ink is water-based and flows more freely than ballpoints and rollerballs, little to no pressure is needed when writing. This allows you to relax your hand and write for longer periods without cramping. And if you’re writing longhand, you can probably write faster, too.
Fountain Pen Drawbacks
Nothing is life is perfect, and fountain pens have their own challenges. I’m a realistic guy, and want to give you fair warning about maybe why you might not want to bother with these types of pens in school.
  • They require planning. You have to keep the pens filled, and clean them out periodically. Like any other non-disposable device, you have to maintain them if you want them to last. This might be an adjustment for some. 
  • They require more responsibility. Fountain pens are more of an investment, so you want to be more careful where you leave them and how you treat them. Really nice ones will be targets for stealing, so keep track of them and don’t leave them lying around in random places. Really nice pens should be treated as such, and not just tossed into a backpack along with your keys, gum, and bottle opener.

Product Recommendations

Now for some product recommendations. These are ones based on what has sold well for my company in the past during back-to-school time, what I’ve heard others recommend, and what I personally find most useful. I’ll bullet point out my top recommendations, but keep in mind there is much more comprehensive information if you click on each hyperlink. Enjoy!


Fountain Pens

Fountain Pen Ink

Now of course, these are just some of the products that I personally recommend and based off what’s been most popular during back-to-school times at GouletPens.com. There are a whole host of other pens, ink, and paper that could work better or worse for you. I’d love to have some conversation going in the comments about what does/doesn’t work for you in your academic settings. My goal is just to give those of you who really don’t know where to start some idea of where to get started if you want to make fountain pens a part of your schooling.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T14:24:22+00:00 August 14th, 2014|Fountain Pen 101|7 Comments
  • Winnie Dolderer

    Picked up the Metropolitan you showed for my niece who is starting high school, and she loved it. Since she is new, I sent her a box of cartridges and a converter and a few samples from your shop as well. She is enjoying learning and experimenting, which I think is part of the draw of fountain pens. Great video.

  • Emy

    I'm a big fan of loose-leaf paper for taking notes – it doesn't take up as much room on the desk as a side-bound notebook, but it's easier to use both sides of the paper than if you used a top-bound notebook. Also, you don't have to carry multiple notebooks with you all the time, which is better for your back! As a fountain pen user, however, the back-to-school sales don't really feature anything that's useful for me. The last couple of semesters, my workaround has been to get some nice thick printer paper (24-lb? 28-lb? I can't remember and the package is still on summer break at the moment…), print lines on that, and 3-hole punched it. I get my loose-leaf paper, it's fountain pen friendly, and I don't have to carry around a bunch of blank paper that won't be used for weeks, if at all.

  • dothgrin

    Emy, Staples (at least the one near me here in the Portland metro) had loose-leaf from Brazil on sale. Great paper for fountain pens!

  • Tom Johnson

    Dothgrin, thanks for this information. I went to Staples web site to find this paper and could not find any shown as being from Brazil. Do you have the product number? Very few loose-leaf papers give their paper weight, but two of them do. One is 24 pound paper that is $5.59 for 50 sheets (http://www.staples.com/Staples-Heavy-Weight-Filler-Paper-8-1-2-inch-x-11-inch/product_439497 ). The other is 20 pound paper on sale now for $2.99 for 100 sheets ( http://www.staples.com/Staples-Reinforced-Filler-Paper-College-Ruled-8-1-2-inch-x-11/product_326530 ). I bet either of these will work for most fountain pen inks, especially Brian's ink suggestions. I did not look at graph papers or other sizes, only college ruled standard 8.5 x 11 inches.

  • dothgrin

    I have heard this…it all depends on the shipments, Tom. The Staples I visited did not have the Brazilian until this week, so I am not surprised. Apparently, as I have heard from other paper enthusiasts, it is a hit or miss proposition, but if you find it, do like I did and grab a bunch!

  • That's awesome. The Metropolitan has definitely grown to become of the best fountain pens around for students.

  • That's smart, I hear of a lot of folks that do that. HP has some of the best paper I've used. I don't sell it, but HP 32lb Premium Laser paper is some fantastic stuff, and it's not too expensive all things considered. It's around $20/ream (500 sheets).